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Exodus 23; John 2; Job 41; 2 Corinthians 11

I take note in Exodus of justice, refreshing, and annual festivals. I smile because I know in John, Jesus will turn water into wine. I imagine the Leviathan in Job–monstrous and mighty. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul boasts of weakness. But there’s more–guidance, caution.

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you … 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.” (Exodus 23:20-22, 32-33, NLT, emphasis added)

23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (John 2:23-25, NLT, emphasis added)

22 “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck
    strikes terror wherever it goes.
23 Its flesh is hard and firm
    and cannot be penetrated.
24 Its heart is hard as rock,
    hard as a millstone.
25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid,
    gripped by terror.
26 No sword can stop it,
    no spear, dart, or javelin.

33 Nothing on earth is its equal,
    no other creature so fearless.
34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest.
    It is the king of beasts
.” (Job 41:22-26, 33-34, NLT, emphasis added)

19 After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! 20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! (2 Corinthians 11:19-20, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider God’s provision and protection, and man’s choices (oh, what of my own?) that pitch a trajectory of sin and idolatry. Jesus, who walked this earth and came to save, who knows people down to their very heart. A monstrous beast, Pride, the king of beasts (taking great creative liberties here). And Paul’s common sense pleading to correct poor vision–why would anyone choose to be enslaved, robbed, taken advantage of, powerless, abused or insulted? These sound like choices of brain fog and deceit.

Lord, I think on the Passover celebrations woven throughout your word, to celebrate a salvation from slavery, to celebrate your might and protection–you make a way, and you make a way for me too. Help me to keep clear vision, a kingdom focus, to be aware of your guidance and counsel, to heed it, to not be duped by the deceit of sin. You are good, and you have good planned for me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Esther 8-10; John 13

It was November a lifetime ago, and I was driving to the library. I was weighted down by deep disappointment and grief. Sometime in preceding months, I had read Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, and I began to keep my own thankful list. That November day, I remember specifically the golden light sweeping across the farm fields, the flocking behavior of birds like a sheet shaken in the wind. I purposed to be grateful for those things in that moment, but I didn’t know how to be grateful for the broken expectations and crushed hopes in my life. I wondered if maybe the point was to be grateful in trial, not necessarily grateful for trial.

Jesus washes the feet of all his disciples.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1-5, NLT, emphasis added)

Jesus shares a meal with them (including Judas, who would betray him). Jesus knew. He knew his purpose. He knew where he was from and where he was going. His purpose was not thwarted by the destructive intentions of another–his purpose was propelled by them.

Esther found herself in the middle of a purpose–a time such as that. Haman’s destructive intentions propelled her into a purpose she had not imagined.

On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related. The king took off his signet ring—which he had taken back from Haman—and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property … 15 Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple. And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree. 16 The Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere. 17 In every province and city, wherever the king’s decree arrived, the Jews rejoiced and had a great celebration and declared a public festival and holiday. (Esther 8:1-2, 15-17a, NLT)

Haman’s hatred led to his own death and justice plays out in an unexpected way: Queen Esther is given Haman’s lands; Mordecai is given the king’s ring and wears royal robes, a fine cloak and a crown of gold.

On Earth, Jesus would be tortured, mocked and crucified by betrayal in a crown of thorns. But he knew. He knew why he was here. He knew what was going to happen. He knew where he was going.

A recent reading in 2 Peter 1 refreshed my kingdom focus. I am thankful for God’s Word. It helped me to understand that God has given me all I need to live a godly life. God gives me a focus and a purpose, and while I still experience heartache and heartbreak here, He prepares me for a grand entrance into His kingdom. An enemy wants to see destruction–but God will use that to propel (us) into a purpose. And now I’m learning to give great thanks for the trial.

Courtney (66books365)

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Zechariah 8-11; John 8; Psalm 147

I may have pondered it from a sermon or a commentary, and certainly if I linger over the words I would wonder too: what did Jesus write in the dust that day? Whatever it was was not meant for future knowledge. But his words were recorded–the words he spoke. The doctor sent to heal. The One who came to seek and save the lost. He who can take a heart of stone and turn it into flesh. What did he say?

In Zechariah, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16, NLT)

To the people gathered around, he said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

To the unbelieving people he warned, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24, NLT)

To those who believed in him, he said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:31b-36, NLT–and don’t stop reading there.)

His words light a fire in me. I fix my eyes on Jesus.

For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has arrived
    to look after Judah, his flock.
He will make them strong and glorious,
    like a proud warhorse in battle.
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
    the tent peg,
the bow for battle,
    and all the rulers.
They will be like mighty warriors in battle,
    trampling their enemies in the mud under their feet.
Since the Lord is with them as they fight,
    they will overthrow even the enemy’s horsemen.

I will strengthen Judah and save Israel;
    I will restore them because of my compassion.
It will be as though I had never rejected them
,
    for I am the Lord their God, who will hear their cries.
The people of Israel will become like mighty warriors,
    and their hearts will be made happy as if by wine.
Their children, too, will see it and be glad;
    their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.
When I whistle to them, they will come running,
    for I have redeemed them. (Zechariah 10:3-8, NLT)

What did he say that day to the adulterous woman caught in (enslaved by) her sin?

And Jesus said, “… Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11b, NLT)

Had the father of lies spoken instead, he would have told her to go back to the man in her bed. He would have condemned her as weak or championed her personal freedom (a personal “freedom” to stay in sin). He would have told her there are worse things. He would have said everyone is doing it–it’s normal. But he would not have empowered her freedom to walk in light and truth, to turn away from sin.

Father God, thank you that you give me your Spirit to speak truth to me and lead me in the light. You call me daughter, empowered by your compassion to fight the good fight. You do not condone sin. You came to set people free from its grip. You came to set me free. Why would I ever want to return to slavery when I can have freedom in you?

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Peter 1; Psalm 145, 128

How do you measure progress toward a task you can’t see or touch? How do you arrange touch points throughout a day or week or month for developing character and championing values? When my goals consisted of exercise, nutrition, managing my home–the tasks were clear and defined and results could be measured. But how do you measure the heart?

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3, NLT)

I scratch my head. I sit with this.

By his divine power.

God has given me everything I need.

For living a godly life.

I have received all of this.

By coming to know him.

The one who called me to himself.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. (2 Peter 1:4, NLT)

Because of his glory and excellence.

He has given me great and precious promises.

His promises enable me.

Father God, you are so good to me. You are generous, glorious, excellent. You invite me to draw near to you. When I look outward and try to plan and prepare, you whisper to me, “I already gave you that. Just remain in me.” You love me so much that you supply me with all I need. I write these words down and keep them close because you are the way, the truth and the life. You make me contemplate this paradox, that I have not yet, and yet I have.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-11, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Hebrews 1; Psalms 67, 118

In Hebrews, I read of the Father’s love for the Son.

I read of His delight, generosity, pride and affirmation.

I read in Psalms of His love, and it is faithful and enduring.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 118:1, NLT).

I thank you, Lord, for your goodness, your faithfulness, your trustworthiness. When I read about your attributes, my heart finds safety and security.

I got a package in the mail yesterday from a friend who has a special way of showering joy like confetti upon her friends. Inside were gifts that she knew would delight–soft things, lovely things, cozy things, tied in bright pink ribbons. Even the mailing label sported her colorful, festive, telling way of celebrating people in her life.

When I opened God’s Word this week and looked over the scriptures for today, I saw love. I saw love on every page. And I saw the writers’ response of gratitude and praise in return. He is so very worth celebrating.

Father, you show me how to love and live. You model delight and joy and generosity. You model faithfulness and perseverance and unchanging, stable grace. I open your word and my heart finds your embrace. I am so grateful. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 2-5; Acts 14

I read of family, purpose and responsibility in Numbers. Families that are set aside under a banner with specific tasks to lead in a direction, to carry special cargo or to manage a task. These themes are deeply meaningful to me. Family members are counted. They are unified in a common goal to serve as the Lord directs.

Again, these themes are deeply meaningful to me. I sit with the words and hold them like a precious gift.

Acts 14 and Paul and Barnabas are met with opposition. They flee to preach the Good News elsewhere and encounter a man with crippled feet.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking (Acts 14:8-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Father God, I am so thankful that when you look at me, you see worth, a daughter, a beloved. Thank you for bringing me into your family and entrusting me with tasks and responsibilities for your glory and my good. Oh, even if my father and mother abandon me, you Lord will hold me close.

Courtney (66books365)


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Exodus 22-24; Luke 23; Psalm 12, 14

14 “Each year you must celebrate three festivals in my honor. 15 First, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Celebrate this festival annually at the appointed time in early spring, in the month of Abib, for that is the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. No one may appear before me without an offering.16 “Second, celebrate the Festival of Harvest, when you bring me the first crops of your harvest.

“Finally, celebrate the Festival of the Final Harvest[i at the end of the harvest season, when you have harvested all the crops from your fields. 17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the Lord. (Exodus 23:14-17, NLT)

A deliverance. A planting. A harvest. These are the three festivals for the Lord’s honor.

When I first started reading the scriptures today, I hoped that I could gain insight to a specific circumstance in my life. While the reading didn’t necessarily address it, I was reminded: God is just. And I trust in that. As I read about the festivals in His honor, I think of it symbolically today.

God delivered me from the captivity of sin and oppression. He has planted me in this place to sow what I will. And at the end of a life or a time, there will be a harvest.

19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19a, NLT)

These festivals were held yearly in the Old Testament–and I wonder if I looked closely at how I spend my time, what would I notice of sowing and harvest in a year? Would it honor God? Did I take what He has given me and use it wisely, intentionally? Have I given Him the honor and best of the harvest?

Lord, I’m so grateful for all that you have done for me. In this time of healing and discovering, I trust in you. I want to take my eyes of my broken heart and focus on purpose–a kingdom purpose. Help me to steward well what you have entrusted me. Help me to honor you and keep you as the focus of my heart, my words and my actions. Thank you for your Word that speaks to me of your presence and promises. Thank you for being trustworthy and just. Thank you for loving me just as much on the days I’m a shortsighted mess as you do on the days I’m bringing my best.

Courtney (66books365)


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